Axis Studios: Animation, VFX and Realtime Production

The Scottish Games Network recently sat down with Michael Zaman and Traci Tufte from Axis Studios, to talk about the company’s growing use of ‘realtime’ technology, it’s work in games, film, and TV, as well as how the studio approaches such a diverse range of projects. You can find the full interview below.

It all comes down to storytelling

Axis Studios is far more than an animation studio. The screen giant is home to an expert visual effects (VFX) team as well as the more recent and rapidly growing ‘realtime’ team.

Axis has been around for 20 years now, with in-game cinematics, trailers and adverts always being a core part of the studio’s output. However, it put itself very firmly on the global map with the award-winning trailer for Dead Island (2011), which has since come to be regarded as one of the best game trailers ever created.

The studio has also now firmly established itself as a VFX expert as well, with multiple projects for major movies and TV series around the world now being undertaken, with titles such as Luther, Outlander and A Discovery of Witches in the last 12 months alone.

The company’s recently released annual showreels for animation and VFX highlight just how many projects are undertaken and how much work the studio is releasing on an ongoing basis.

What The Hell is Realtime?

‘Realtime’ however is something new. It’s a term that has taken the screen industries by storm – especially in the light of Covid-19 lockdowns, where location-based work was out of the question and much of the industry ground to a halt.

At its heart, it’s a fairly simple concept. It uses game engines – primarily, but not exclusively, Unreal and Unity, to create content – tell stories – for other platforms: film, TV or animation. However, when you scratch the surface you realise that there’s far more to ‘realtime’ than an updated approach to ‘machinima’.

Game engines provide a completely new toolset for animators and film makers. Unlike the ‘old-fashioned’ approach to animation, where artists worked with wireframes and flat-shaded polygonal environments, which had to be sent off for rendering before they could see the end results, the latest generation of game engines can display everything ‘live’ – hence realtime.

Virtual Production

The use of game engines goes way beyond animation and into mainstream movie and TV production. The use of huge ultra- high resolution LED screens, with game engines being used to combine live footage and computer animation in realtime. This is enabling production companies to see entire shots in situ, avoid the use of green screen, and everything only coming together in post-production. This lets the director and crew make immediate creative decisions, and get immediate feedback on performances and changes ‘in camera’.

Help Wanted

The realtime team is growing quickly. Axis is now utilising its realtime pipeline across almost every area of its business, with the realtime team at the heart of an increasing number of projects.

The company is now looking for a number of different people to join the team and bring their technical and creative games skills, to the whole range of realtime work that the studio is now producing.

Axis Studios is currently looking for several roles within its realtime team, including

Watch The Interview

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